Pearl barley risotto with roasted squash, red peppers and rocket

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the squash and peppers in a roasting tray with a good drizzle of olive oil and the leaves picked from the thyme sprigs. Season and toss well and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes until tender. Give it a good mix halfway through.

Pour the stock into a small pan and keep warm over a low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in another pan (I used a deep-sided frying pan with a lid) and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft. Add the barley and cook for one minute.

Start adding the stock a ladle or two at a time, stirring well and making sure all the stock has been absorbed before adding more. This will take 30-40 minutes – the barley should be tender but still al dente. When you’re happy that it’s cooked, put the lid on, turn the heat off and leave to stand.

Take the squash and peppers out of the oven. Add these to the risotto with the parsley and gently mix through. Divide between two warmed bowls and top each with the rocket and parmesan. Another drizzle of olive oil and some balck pepper and you’re good to go.

Lentil and roast carrot salad with feta

Method:

A great lunch dish, ideal for taking to work. Roasting the carrots with honey gives them a lovely sweetness which contrasts beautifully with the sharp saltiness of the feta.

Warm the lentils in a pan with a little extra water.. Put the spinach and spring onion in a colander and then pour over the warmed lentils to drain (this will also wilt the spinach and soften the onions). Drizzle over some olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Add the mint, mix well and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C. Put the carrots on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the cumin seeds. Season well and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. Drizzle over the honey and roast for a further 5 minutes or until just tender. remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To assemble, mix the lentils again, divide between two plates and scatter over the roast carrots and feta. Drizzle over a little more oil and add a grind or two of black pepper.